ASPEN, COLORADO Following an eventful year—in which the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen celebrated its 35th edition and the magazine was sold to Meredith Corporation—the beloved and exclusive food festival returns June 15 to 17 to its intimate mountain setting.
“While the general structure of the Classic largely remains the same, because it works so well, all the content within that framework—different chefs and parties, new sponsors and advertisers, and new topics for seminars—is always fresh,” says Diella Allen, Food & Wine event marketing coordinator. “Preserving the legacy of the event and making sure that the structure remains the same is the appealing piece to returners, and the content that we change is the way that we keep it fresh and new.”
Here’s a look at what to expect from this year’s festival—including new event themes, sponsor activations, seminar programming, and more.
The First Major South America-Theme Event
Atop the Snow Queen gondola, the Friday-night Fiesta de Peru is slated to take over Aspen Mountain, with the Trade Commission of Peru as host. “Peru has been a partner for many years, and it’s a bit of a secret culinary treasure that more people need to know about,” Allen says. The marketplace-style bash will be decorated with Peruvian blankets and textiles and colorful fabrics, with signage in cultural Nazca Lines.
Featured bites will be presented in food stalls, and guests can expect to savor different styles of ceviche and tiraditos. Cocktails from Ketel One will spotlight the vodka brand’s new botanicals line, infusing Peruvian flavors into pours like the Machu Peachu, with Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom, and La Flor, with fragrant and fruity notes from Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose.
New Activations From Returning Partners
With several dinner parties, countless seminars, spacious Grand Tasting tents, and late-night festivities, the Classic offers an open canvas on which sponsors can activate. SPG AmEx will host invite-only mountaintop yoga classes with co-sponsor Lululemon, along with a Revive & Shine Coconut Bar at the St. Regis in the afternoons. At the Grand Tasting, SPG will host a pop-up preview of the W Aspen, slated to open in 2019.
“Our SPG Amex activations at the Food & Wine Classic this year help provide a balance between indulgence and wellness,” says Heather Norton, director of corporate affairs and communications for U.S. consumer products and services at American Express.
Lexus plans to partner with Lake Placid Lodge to erect a ski chalet at the Grand Tasting, which will feature destination-theme bites throughout the weekend.
The Grand Tasting booth for Las Vegas-based Aria Resort and Casino will host chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Jean-Georges Steakhouse. And at the Farewell Feast Sunday brunch at the newly expanded Hotel Jerome, Aria will shake up signature cocktails from a branded lounge.
Additionally, the Classic will feature new Colorado-based sponsors such as Beef—It’s What’s for Dinner, out of Centennial, which will host onsite butcher demos at the Grand Tasting, as well as Blue Moon Brewing Company, out of Golden, which will pour exclusively throughout the Grand Tasting tents and other ticketed events.
Expanded Beverage Seminars
From rye to tiki and craft beer to coffee, this year’s beverage seminars will infuse variety into the tented classroom settings. The Rebirth of Rye, inspired by one attendee’s survey submission request that read, “Bourbon, Bourbon, Bourbon!” after last year’s Classic, features Dave Wondrich, revered as one of the founders of the modern craft cocktail movement.
Patrón has plans to showcase the art of tiki at the hands-on Patrón Presents: Tequila Goes Tiki: Tropical Cocktails Made Easy With Patron. “We’ve seen a resurgence of tiki culture and cocktails, as evidenced by tiki-theme bars and specialty drinks popping up across the country,” says Pam Dzierzanowski, vice president event marketing for Patrón Tequila. “Patrón is known for being a versatile spirit, so we are putting our tequila at the forefront of the tiki trend, which is traditionally owned by rum, to further highlight the versatility and ease of using Patrón in this year’s hottest cocktails.”
Look for more tiki-inspired treats at the Grand Tasting, along with tiki drinks and eats at the brand’s Saturday night soiree.
For those who prefer hoppier sessions, Blackberry Farm’s Andy Chabot hosts Building the Perfect Beer, while Denver-based Daniel Imdieke curates Blue Moon Presents: Beer’s Place at the Table, to discuss beer and food pairings. And, for a debut lesson on all things coffee, there's the seminar Lexus Presents: Coffee Bean Meets Cuisine.